WASHINGTON — You see it flash in the sky and then your hear the unmistakable roar when lightning and thunder roll through.
The safest spot when lightning strikes is inside, but if you are outdoors there are few things to keep in mind. If you can hear thunder, you are essentially within striking distance.
Lightning can strike far away from the storm:
Lightning can strike more than 10 miles away from a storm. "Bolts from the Blue" can strike up to 15 miles away from the center of a storm, so even if it's not raining and there are no clouds, lightning can still strike you from a nearby storm.
According to the National Weather Service, your risk for getting struck is reduced if you wait at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
How close is the lighting to you?
There is a quick way to determine how far away lightning is from you. Thunder travels about one mile in five seconds. Once you see the lightning, count until you hear the thunder. Count the number of seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder then divide by 5.
For example, if you see lightning, then hear thunder 5 seconds later, the storm is about one mile away. If you hear the thunder 15 seconds after you see lightning, the storm is 3 miles away.
0 seconds = very close
5 seconds = 1 mile
10 seconds = 2 miles
15 seconds = 3 miles
30 seconds = 6 miles
Under a tree is not the place to be!
The worst place to be during a storm is under a tree, as lightning is attracted to tall objects. Also, if there is wind and rain, the tree can fall over and you don't want to be near it if that happens.
If you can't get inside, try getting to the car. The metal of the car will offer some protection as the electricity will travel through the metal frame then to the ground. Many people think it's the tires that protect them, but it's really the metal. Try not to lean on the doors though.
Indoor concerns about lightning:
While indoors is the safest place during a storm, there are still some risks.
The National Weather Service says avoiding things that conduct electricity is the safest bet inside. Experts said it means staying off corded phones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, computers, plumbing, metal doors and windows.
Lightning is hot!
And yet another reason to avoid lightning: It's super hot! Lightning is about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that's five times hotter than the surface of the sun.